New COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in Mississauga on Monday, Crombie says

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In her COVID-19 press conference this afternoon, Mayor Bonnie Crombie confirmed that Mississauga and Peel Region will get the new COVID-19 vaccine on Monday (December 21).

Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was authorized with conditions by Health Canada on December 9 and began distribution in Ontario earlier this week.

Similarly to the rest of the province, the first doses in Mississauga will go to front-line healthcare workers at the city’s hospitals, and will later go to vulnerable residents and seniors living in long-term care homes and congregate settings during a later phase of the vaccine rollout.

The mayor hopes that by April, we will begin to see wider community access to the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Crombie anticipates that Mississauga and Peel Region will remain in the grey (lockdown) zone for the holidays, but says the lockdown has helped the city’s case counts begin to plateau.

Peel Region averaged 448 daily cases over the last week, with Mississauga averaging 164 daily cases — slightly up from the previous week. Mississauga had 138 cases per 100,000 residents, up five from the previous week.

“But I am encouraged that the rate of growth has slowed down,” said Crombie. “And I believe we would be in a much worse position had the province not taken the measures that they had.”

However, the mayor says it’s also becoming “increasingly evident” from the city’s data that people across the GTHA are region-hopping — much more so than during the first wave — to go shopping, dine out, or visit friends and family.

“Unfortunately this is leading to more community spread,” she said, adding that she firmly believes a GTA-wide lockdown is needed to drive down case numbers.

As of noon today, Peel Public Health has investigated 11,486 cases in Mississauga of which 1,068 are active, 10,132 have resolved, and 287 have passed away. 

Hospitals in Mississauga and Ontario continue to face difficult conditions. The province’s hospitals are currently dealing with more than 900 COVID cases — close to as many as there were during the peak of the first wave.

The province is asking hospitals to prepare for emergency plans. For hospitals in grey (lockdown) zones and red (control) zones, this would mean clearing 10% to 15% of their beds for COVID-19 patients.

Mississauga’s Trillium Health Partners is now dealing with 90 COVID hospitalizations, almost 25 people in the ICU, and several dozen pending cases. Over the last two weeks the hospital has been forced to transfer some patients to other facilities in neighbouring regions, and beginning tomorrow (December 17) it will be canceling some elective surgeries.

Nineteen long-term care homes, 14 retirement homes, and three group homes in Mississauga are currently in outbreak.

Over the last week, 19 deaths related to the virus were reported in Peel, 164 in Ontario, and 667 in Canada.

With a vaccine on the way, both Crombie and Peel’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh pleaded with residents not to get complacent or start attending big social gatherings over the holidays, warning that past holidays have brought with them a large spike in cases.

“I’m extremely worried we’ll see an even larger spike after Christmas, and this could mean we will face a prolonged lockdown in January,” said the mayor, warning that most businesses and facilities would be closed to indoor use for even longer.

Loh compared the situation to seatbelts.

“Let me be clear — an approved vaccine does not help you if you have not received it. Inventing seatbelts didn’t immediately make cars safer; it was change over the long term that finally brought safety,” said Loh, who says a traditional holiday celebration will simply not be possible this year.

Over the last week, city by-law gave out 35 tickets to people at private gatherings for exceeding limits or mixing households, and Crombie says the city will not hesitate to continue responding to calls about large gatherings and handing out fines when necessary.

In more positive news, the mayor announced that the provincial government is allocating $9.6 million in funding for Mississauga through the Safe Restart Agreement to help the city balance its 2020 operating budget, as well as another $11.2 million to help the city continue providing vital services in 2021.

“I want to give my sincerest thanks to both the provincial and the federal government for supporting not only our city, but cities across the province and across the country. Cities like Mississauga have been on the front lines of the crisis,” said Crombie. 

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